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Super 15 Final – Hurricanes 14-21 Highlanders Match Report


Result Hurricanes 14 Highlanders 21

In a fantastic 100 miles an hour final, which was a suitable conclusion to a great Super Rugby season, the Highlanders won their first ever Super Rugby title.

The Hurricanes were not quite as accurate as they have been and a few 50/50 passes that have been going there way in the season when offloading either hit the floor or missed the supporting player, taking nothing away from the Highlanders whose defence and line speed was simply brilliant.

It was the Highlanders who scored first with a penalty from Lima Sopoaga, the Hurricanes missed a penalty through Beauden Barrett, and then when deep in Highlander territory, took the decision to turn down 3 points and took a scrum, however referee penalised them at the scrum, so the positive decision backfired.

Beauden Barrett then missed another penalty, which minutes later, looked an easy worse miss as Lima Sopoaga then kicked another penalty to put the Highlanders 6-0 up. 

 In the 35th minute, after pressure on the Highlanders line, at a ruck TJ Perenara shot out a great pass to Ma’a Nonu, who bustled past the last defender to score the try, Barrett missed a tough conversion from the touchline, you did wonder if that try would be the turning point just before half time, but that was not the case.

On the 39th minutes, after some interpassing, Elliot Dixon, got the ball, and showing some great leg drive and upper body strength, carried 4 players over the line, it seemed to me he did not ground it properly, seemed to place the ball on a defenders foot, however, they went upstairs and the try was given, even Dixon himself, looked surprised, but was an unbelievable effort by the player. Sopoaga kicked the conversion, at half time it was Hurricanes 5 Highlanders 13.

42nd minute, Barrett kicked a penalty, to put the Hurricanes to within 5 points, however after 46 minutes, after sustained pressure, going back and fore across the pitch and some great skills by amongst others Malakai Fekitoa, the ball got to Dixon who held the defence and gave the ball to Waisake Naholo, who came inside Julian Savea, diving over the line for the try, Sopoaga  missed a tough conversion, Highlanders were now 18-8 up.

The pace and power on display was fantastic, was a lot of turnover ball, but hardly surprising was no holds barred rugby with offloads galore, after 53 minutes, Barrett kicked a penalty to get 3 points back, Sopoaga then missed a penalty.  66 minutes on the clock, Barrett kicked another penalty, the game was now within 4 points.

The Hurricanes had a great chance when the ball got moved out wide and with only the requirement to take the pass and fall over the line, Savea overrun the pass and missed a great opportunity, his eye might of been caught by Fekitoa coming across, but as a player of his stature, it was a huge chance blown.

Highlanders went down the other end and only great defence from Savea and Barrett kept the Highlanders out.

On the 77 minutes mark, after a number of rucks close to the Hurricanes line, Aaron Smith fired a pass back to Marty Banks, who had come on when Sopoaga could no longer continue, and with great composure, slotted the drop goal between the posts, putting Highlanders  7 points up.

Off the kick off, Savea leapt for the ball, and only almost gathered it at full speed but knocked on, this encompassed the Hurricanes game, so close yet so far.  With 2 minutes on the clock, Highlanders went through a few rucks, taking it up a number of times, running the clock down and then as time run out, clearing the ball off the park, to beat the favourites on their own ground, a stunning victory.

So many stars in the game but for me, picking out three from each I would say for the Hurricanes, it was James Broadhurst, whose ball carrying was exceptional, TJ Perenara, whose service was excellent as is his kick chase, and Brad Shields, who put in some big hits and never stopped trying.  Highlanders, Aaron Smith, great service and managed the game so well, Nasi Manu, kept trucking the ball up and making tackle after tackle, a great leader, and what a player Edinburgh have got next season and finally Elliot Dixon, a great try, his assist for the second try, and just a great athlete.

My MOM – Aaron Smith

Line Up’s, Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 1 Reggie Goodes, 2 Dane Coles, 3 Ben Franks, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 5 James Broadhurst, 6 Brad Shields, 7 Callum Gibbons, 8 Victor Vito

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waiseke Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 1 Brendon Edmonds, 2 Liam Coltman, 3 Josh Hohneck, 4 Alex Ainley, 5 Mark Reddish, 6 Elliot Dixon, 7 James Lentjes, 8 Nasi Manu

Great final and well done Highlanders, proving this rugby writer wrong, not for the first time!




Highlanders Hurricanes super 15

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